Welcome to MSF Field Research


MSF is known for its humanitarian medical work, but it has also produced important research based on its field experience. It has published articles in over 100 peer-reviewed journals and they have often changed clinical practice and been used for humanitarian advocacy. These articles are available for free, in full text - no login required. We sincerely thank the publishers for their permission to archive on this site.


Published Research and Commentary
Conference Abstracts
Programme Descriptions
Research Resources


  • Declining blood lead levels among small-scale miners participating in a safer mining pilot programme in Nigeria

    Gottesfeld, P; Meltzer, G; Costello, S; Greig, J; Thurtle, N; Bil, K; Mwangombe, BJ; Nota, MM (The BMJ, 2019-09-05)
    Objectives Our objective was to monitor blood lead levels (BLLs) of miners and ore processors participating in a pilot programme to reduce lead poisoning and take-home exposures from artisanal small-scale gold mining. A medical surveillance programme was established to assess exposures as new methods aimed at reducing lead exposures from ore were introduced in a community in Nigeria where children experienced substantial lead-related morbidity and mortality. Methods Extensive outreach and education were offered to miners, and investments were made to adopt wet methods to reduce exposures during mining and processing. We conducted medical surveillance, including a physical exam and repeated blood lead testing, for 61 miners selected from among several hundred who participated in the safer mining pilot programme and consented to testing. Venous blood lead concentrations were analysed using the LeadCare II device at approximately 3-month intervals over a period of 19 months. Results Overall geometric mean (GM) BLLs decreased by 32% from 31.6 to 21.5 µg/dL during the 19-month project. Women had a somewhat lower reduction in GM BLLs (23%) compared with men (36%). There was a statistically significant reduction in log BLLs from baseline to the final test taken by each participant (p<0.001). Conclusions The observed reductions in GM BLLs during the pilot intervention among this representative group of miners and ore processors demonstrated the effectiveness of the safer mining programme in this community. Such measures are feasible, cost-effective and can greatly improve health outcomes in mining communities.
  • Simplifying switch to second-line antiretroviral therapy in sub Saharan Africa: predicted effect of using a single viral load to define efavirenz-based first-line failure.

    Shroufi, A; Van Cutsem, G; Cambiano, V; Bansi-Matharu, L; Duncan, K; Murphy, RA; Maman, D; Phillips, A (Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2019-08-01)
    BACKGROUND: Many individuals failing first-line antiretroviral therapy (ART) in sub-Saharan Africa never initiate second-line ART or do so after significant delay. For people on ART with a viral load more than 1000 copies/ml, the WHO recommends a second viral load measurement 3 months after the first viral load and enhanced adherence support. Switch to a second-line regimen is contingent upon a persistently elevated viral load more than 1000 copies/ml. Delayed second-line switch places patients at increased risk for opportunistic infections and mortality. METHODS: To assess the potential benefits of a simplified second-line ART switch strategy, we use an individual-based model of HIV transmission, progression and the effect of ART which incorporates consideration of adherence and drug resistance, to compare predicted outcomes of two policies, defining first-line regimen failure for patients on efavirenz-based ART as either two consecutive viral load values more than 1000 copies/ml, with the second after an enhanced adherence intervention (implemented as per current WHO guidelines) or a single viral load value more than 1000 copies/ml. We simulated a range of setting-scenarios reflecting the breadth of the sub-Saharan African HIV epidemic, taking into account potential delays in defining failure and switch to second-line ART. FINDINGS: The use of a single viral load more than 1000 copies/ml to define ART failure would lead to a higher proportion of persons with nonnucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor resistance switched to second-line ART [65 vs. 48%; difference 17% (90% range 14-20%)], resulting in a median 18% reduction in the rate of AIDS-related death over setting scenarios (90% range 6-30%; from a median of 3.1 to 2.5 per 100 person-years) over 3 years. The simplified strategy also is predicted to reduce the rate of AIDS conditions by a median of 31% (90% range 8-49%) among people on first-line ART with a viral load more than 1000 copies/ml in the past 6 months. For a country of 10 million adults (and a median of 880 000 people with HIV), we estimate that this approach would lead to a median of 1322 (90% range 67-3513) AIDS deaths averted per year over 3 years. For South Africa this would represent around 10 215 deaths averted annually. INTERPRETATION: As a step towards reducing unnecessary mortality associated with delayed second-line ART switch, defining failure of first-line efavirenz-based regimens as a single viral load more than 1000 copies/ml should be considered.
  • Diabetes in humanitarian crises: the Boston Declaration.

    Kehlenbrink, S; Jaacks, M; Aebischer Perone, S; Ansbro, E; Ashbourne, E; Atkinson, C; Atkinson, M; Atun, R; Besancon, S; Boulle, P; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-08)
  • Quantifying the incidence of severe-febrile-illness hospital admissions in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Roddy, P; Dalrymple, U; Jensen, TO; Dittrich, S; Rao, VB; Pfeffer, DA; Twohig, KA; Roberts, T; Bernal, O; Guillen, E (Public Library of Science, 2019-07-25)
    Severe-febrile-illness (SFI) is a common cause of morbidity and mortality across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The burden of SFI in SSA is currently unknown and its estimation is fraught with challenges. This is due to a lack of diagnostic capacity for SFI in SSA, and thus a dearth of baseline data on the underlying etiology of SFI cases and scant SFI-specific causative-agent prevalence data. To highlight the public health significance of SFI in SSA, we developed a Bayesian model to quantify the incidence of SFI hospital admissions in SSA. Our estimates indicate a mean population-weighted SFI-inpatient-admission incidence rate of 18.4 (6.8-31.1, 68% CrI) per 1000 people for the year 2014, across all ages within areas of SSA with stable Plasmodium falciparum transmission. We further estimated a total of 16,200,337 (5,993,249-27,321,779, 68% CrI) SFI hospital admissions. This analysis reveals the significant burden of SFI in hospitals in SSA, but also highlights the paucity of pathogen-specific prevalence and incidence data for SFI in SSA. Future improvements in pathogen-specific diagnostics for causative agents of SFI will increase the abundance of SFI-specific prevalence and incidence data, aid future estimations of SFI burden, and enable clinicians to identify SFI-specific pathogens, administer appropriate treatment and management, and facilitate appropriate antibiotic use.
  • Hepatitis E should be considered a neglected tropical disease.

    Asman, AS; Ciglenecki, I; Wamala, JF; Lynch, J; Aggarwal, R; Rahman, M; Wong, S; Serafini, M; Moussa, AM; Dalton, HR; et al. (Public Library of Science, 2019-07-25)

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